Platanus occidentalis (American Sycamore, Buttonball Tree)

Easily recognized because of their large leaves and mottle, brown-cream bark, American Syacmores are fast-growing deciduous trees frequently growing to 30 meters (100 feet) tall.

Platanus occidentalis (American Sycamore, Buttonball Tree)
Deciduous: yes
Hardiness Zones: 4-9
Height: 22-30 meters (75-100 feet) (up to 46 meters (150 feet)) tall
Diameter: 22-30 meters (75-100) foot wide canopy, up to a 5 meter (16 foot) trunk
Growth Rate: fast (up to 1.2 meters (4 feet) tall 1 year after germination)
Age: possibly over 250 years old
Root System: strong, spreading
Family: Platanaceae
Subspecies: none

Tolerates: herbivores (deer), urban pollution (poor air quality), light shade
Problems (major): sycamore anthracnose
Problems (minor): canker, leaf spot, powdery mildew, borers, scale, Japaese beetles, caterpillars, mites, litter in autumn
Poisonous: The foliage is believed to cause hay ever in warm climates.

Soil requirements: prefers nutrient-rich, humusy, moist, well-drained soils
Air requirements: tolerates urban air pollution
Watering requirement: moderate to high (moist to wet)
Sun requirement: full sun

Needles: none
Cones (male): none
Cones (female): none
Leaves: 3 or 5 lobed, 10-25 centimeters (4-10 inches) long, alternate, toothed
Flowers: bloom in April, male flowers yellow, female flowers red
Fruits: Spherical, light brown clusters persist into deep winter. The individual fruits (know nas “achenes”) have the seed attached to a lightweight, fuzzy end designed for dispersion
Seeds require stratification: yes
Monoecious or Dioecious: monoecious

Notable characteristics:
The wood peels with age; the brown outer bark falls off to reveal a creamy white color underneath. The leaves are massive, and American Sycamores grow to
enormous heights. P. occidentalis is considered to the largest tree native to the northeastern United States.

These are infrequently used as ornamentals, more commonly as shade trees. The wood has been used for a variety of purposes, including furniture, crates, and
dugout canoes.

Sources used:

Foliage with a developing cluster of achenes

A cluster of seeds in spring

The peeling foliage

Bark and information (from the Missouri Botanical Garden)

Close-up of a leaf

All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that this article/online journal is
appropriately cited first.


Leave a comment

Filed under Plant Analysis

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s